Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My First Trip to Malmö

I left Camarillo exactly four weeks ago today, still a long time until Laurie arrives for the Summer.

I got an early start and took the train south to the Öresund port city of Malmö, Sweden's third largest city with a population of about 262,000 inhabitants.

The Jojo Card took care of the 192 Krona round trip fare and one unknown fare on a bus. So after only three days I have recouped at least 336 Krona of the thirty day Jojo Card's original 1060 Krona purchase price with 27 days to go!

I say "at least" because I do not know the cost of the three bus rides I've taken thanks to Jojo and my little problem going home last night. In Malmö I boarded the Pågatåg train headed to Helsinborg.

Easy, right? It was the Pågatåg train that I took Monday to Helsingborg.

WRONG! In my dazed and tired state at the end of a long day, I forgot that Monday's train only goes East-West from Helsingborg to Kristianstad. I had mistakenly boarded one of the other four Pågatåg train lines, one that went only North-South along the coast from Malmö to Helsingborg.

Like the Belly Counter, I had to learn by this costly mistake.

Fortunately costly in time only, one extra hour on the correct Pågatåg train. The Jojo Card covered the cost of the unknown fare of my extra leg home.

Malmö as first seen from the Östra Canal

As you can see, it was very foggy when I exited the central train station and crossed this bridge into Malmö. The weather would be a factor on this day.

Malmö's logo is this very cool
bird-headed dragon.

Like every Swedish city, large or small, I've visited to date, Malmö had some interesting statuary.

I think her name is Joy

By the time I found her, it was mid-day and pouring rain. She was in the Kungsparken, the oldest public park in Malmö opened in 1872.

Malmö's Logo with a Fierce Minion

Ode to Wheat

Again, the Skåne region is mostly farm land.

Ode to Brian FitzGerald's Sprinters

No wonder his people are so fast, they even have wings on their asses!


Helsingborg had their leafless trees festooned with colorful artificial feathers on Monday. Malmö would counter with huge Easter Eggs.

Stortorget Square built in 1536

These are the first ones I found, large and somewhat plain.

Take a closer look at the statue of the horse with a rider. That is King Karl X Gustav in the saddle. He is the one who took the Skåne region from the Danes

Tradition has it that if in a statue of this style the horse has it's two front legs off the ground, the rider died in battle on the battle field.

If the horse only has one front leg off the ground, the rider died due to battle wounds at a later time.

If all four of the horse's legs are grounded, the rider died of non-battle related issues.

Just thought you might want to know.

Now that's more like it!

This colorful egg even had a parade of statues following it down Södergatan, Malmö's big pedestrian only walking street.

The Best Eggs in my opinion

I found these two keepers on the Gustav Adolfs Torg.

What the . . . ?

This is getting strange

St. Petri Kyrka

Dating from the early 1300's, it was built in Baltic Gothic style.

An Ornate Pulpit

A grave marker near St. Petri's altar

Are they playing Fotboll with those skulls?

Guest Pianist

As I sat and reflected in one of the pews, a very plain dressed man just walked up to a piano near the altar, sat down and played one beautiful tune. As quickly as he came, he left. Give him a listen.

I love these painted Ads on the buildings

The Burger King kind of clashes with my old school Ads.

Colorful Architecture Time

This courtyard will be hopping
when Spring gets here

Just off of the Lilla Torg, a very popular meeting place in Malmö.


A wine industry edifice, I'm sure Laurie will make a few stops here in the Summer.


Hollandia Konditori

I had to have some coffee with a Danish, it's becoming a tradition on these treks.

Lots of great ost/cheese shops in Sweden

Laurie will be buying a pair of these clogs, I'm sure.

Probably more.

Casino Cosmopol

Of course this reminded me of Andy and Jenn living in Las Vegas. I don't think that this modest Casino poses any real threat to Las Vegas tourism.

I wonder how Koreen FitzGerald is doing?

Vamos Bien?

A reminder of a Spring Break vacation with Andy, Mike and Ben.

David Lassen, I found one!

It took a month, but here is the first Mexican restaurant I have seen.

My personal rule has alway been "Don't Eat in a Mexican Restaurant Above the 45th Parallel".

Malmö is located at latitude 55.55˚ North.

It's a no go, unless I get desperate!

The Black Bread scares me

Cool little guy walking in the rain
with his Dad

This was taken in the Gamla Begravnings Platsen, a combination cemetery/pedestrian walking zone.

Young love in the distance on a rainy day

Always nice to share your umbrella with a pretty girl.

In the Slotts Trägärden

The Malmöus Castle

More of a fortification really, it now houses a series of museums both inside and outside its walls. It was a good place to hide from the mid-day rain storm.

Spin the Eco-Wheel in the Nature Museum

I spun it and this is what I supposed to do for the next month to help the ecology.


Who is this fellow?

I'm obviously in the art museum now.

Hey, is that me in this drawing?


The World Championship of Women's American Football will be held in Stockholm this Summer.

These sisters are now the two starting inside linebackers for Team Sweden!

I liked this one of 1932 Stockholm.

1963 Heinkel Trojan 200
198 cc's of power

Now I'm in the transportation section, note the scooter next to it to properly appreciate the Trojan's size.

The entire front of this three-wheeler is the Trojan's only passenger door.

What boy doesn't love a good
Aerospace Museum?

1895 Roller Skates

Made by the Road Skate Company of London, "The leg braces are particularly suitable for ladies, as they can put the skates on or take them off in a public place."

Malmö City Hall

Built in 1546, it is quite a sight and yes, it IS a bright, sunny afternoon!

The best way to get around town

While Malmö is a very old and picturesque city, it also has a new and vibrant feel to it, especially in the Western Harbor area.

The unique landmark sight in the Western Harbor area is . . .

The Turning Torso

An apartment building erected in 2005, it was the brain child of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. When it was being built the people of Malmö were up in arms because it just doesn't fit with the rest of the city's old world feel.

Gradually they have come to like it and now take pride in this internationally reknowned landmark.

How did they do this?

This 54 story, 623 foot (190 meters) tall edifice is truly fascinating. The idea is that we are facing the back of the building and that the "face" of the building at the top is twisting around to get a better look at the Western Harbor and Denmark across the Öresund.


Malmö is an interesting city that combines history, architectural styles and a gritty sea port quite nicely.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Slow Tuesday

Sorry that yesterday's blog looked strange, I tried a "new and improved" blog option that would not allow me to control my editing. I'm now back on the old blog system, I hope it works!

Tuesday morning has now officially become my laundry day. A near disaster today when the community key to the big drying room was missing. Fortunately our one drying machine was accessible and my flat comes equipped with hangers, a shower curtain rod and a bathroom radiator so I survived. I've now got it down to about a three hour process.

That book on the left is familiar.

Yes, the Hässleholm Bibliotek has indeed accepted the Stieg Larsson book that I "lost" there last week.

Linus Nilsson warming up

"Hurricanes On Three!"

We had 28 players at practice tonight, we were missing two starters in the offensive line but we are definitely improving slowly but surely.

Off to explore Malmö in the morning, stay tuned!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Full Monday in Helsingborg

On Sunday when I visited Christian Boesgaard, the conversation turned at one point to the cheapest ways to travel by rail.

After listening to the options that he laid out for me, I decided to go with the 30 day . . .

Jojo Card Plan

This gives me unlimited rides on both of Skånetrafiken's trains and busses. In other words, I can see a lot of Southern Sweden's Skåne region for a lot less money.

The cost of the 30 day Jojo card was 1060 Swedish Krona, about $146.

Today, armed with my Jojo Card, I decided to wake up early and use it to re-visit Helsingborg, about an hour away West by train. The cost of a round trip ticket would have been 144 Krona, about $20, plus I rode the 219 bus out to the Sofiero Slott, King Gustav Adolf VI's summer palace. I'm not sure how much the bus would have cost without the Jojo card but I know I'm going to save money in the long run.

But first . . .

My Coffee Mates

Can't start the day without proper sustenance now can you? I had coffee and a Danish at Fahlmans Konditori, a great way to warm the body and soul on a 9˚C day.

Properly nourished, it was time to explore.

A Swedish Porn Family?

Brother Bergströms Byggnads???

I digress.

On more esoteric grounds, I decided to visit a small museum.

Helsingborg's School Museum

This 1st-6th grade school house, built in 1866, was in continuos use for 119 years until 1985. It was the first building erected solely to be a school in the history of Helsingborg.

As a former teacher with 38 years in the field of education, I thought I'd give it a go.

The one room school house re-created.

Most of the time I was told the teachers were females. They had to be unmarried with no offspring and lived upstairs as part of their compensation.

Local History was taught here I'm sure.

First attempts at writing

When the school first opened, they were short on both money and supplies. Their innovative plan to teach writing was quite ingenious, simply build these long, rectangular sand boxes to practice the alphabet. At the far end of the sand box you can see the "eraser".

Savings Box

Each pupil had to donate money each week for supplies. They were each assigned a number and would place their donation in the proper slot. What did they buy with the money?

Until 1910, the money was used to buy ammunition. Every student, as part of the curriculum, was taught how to properly fire a weapon!

After 1910, the money was used to purchase . . .

Much safer musical instruments

The Total Student

Swedish school's even had a dentist as part of the staff. The school system was very concerned with the health of the students.

Here my guide, Gustav, shows me how the foot pedal turned this low tech drill.


Stuffed Bird Collection

In 1960, my last trip to Cuba with my Mom and Dad, Papa Jorge took me to his high school, Belen Jesuit. It was a gorgeous campus that now houses Cuba's Military Academy, ala West Point.

They had an extensive stuffed bird collection as well.

Love and miss you every day Dad!

The Principal's Desk

Wait a second!

Did the Principal have a WWII German Enigma Machine in his office to encrypt/decrypt Nazi military messages?


Next Sunday is Easter and suddenly the signs, especially the colors, of this Holiest of Weeks are everywhere.

Like this girl's Easter colored outfit
at Hässleholm Central Train Station

Or these Bunnies in front of Helsinborg's Dunkers Kulturhus where the Tourist Bureau is located.

The trees still lack leaves but no problem, the Swedes simply attach colorful feathering to the branches and voila, instant Easter feeling!

Near the Rådhuset,
Helsingborg's City Hall

Near Kärnan Tower

In someone's front yard

The hanging Easter eggs are always a nice touch as well.

Yep, they make me smile too

Kind of puts me in that GLAD PÅSK mood, Happy Easter that is.

As always on these adventures, their are reminders of people back in California like . . .

Laurie and her Peeps

Bill and his Rotarians


Shi Young Kim
Master Art Teacher

Paul Petrich
Seafaring Historian

King Gustav VI Adolf's
Summer Palace

Location, Location, Location!

Relatively simple by European Royal standards but what a GREAT view. As I said earlier, just a short Skånetrafiken Bus 219 ride to this Slott with my Jojo Card.

Old Stream Crossing Bridge


The water behind me is the Öresund and that's Denmark in the distance.

Suddenly there were body parts . . .


Or maybe it was just a form of artistic expression on the Slott's grounds.

Speaking of art and architecture . . .

View near the base of Kärnan Tower

View of 700 years old Kärnan Tower

Cool Apartment Building

Catchy name for a Hotel in Sweden

Just another Helsingborg Shop

Helsingborg's answer to
NYC's Flat Iron Building

Lift with your legs!


Pick-pocketing a Teddy Bear?

In Sta. Maria Kyrka

This church was built in the 1300's in the Danish Gothic style.

Trouble Maker!

No, actually given the state of the Catholic Church in his times, I can understand his reasons.

Come to think of it, we Catholics are not having the best PR issues today either.

The Church Lady

A Globe and a Building

Pass Defense

This guy in the middle does a GREAT job breaking up this pass!

Coed Naked American Football, is it possible . . .

A bar trying to warn you?

Is it possible that there is a game tonight?

YES!!! Cancel everything, I'm going.

HIF (2 wins-0 ties-0 losses) vs. IFK Göteborg (1-0-1)

7:00 p.m. kick-off? Give me your cheapest seat please.

Actually, the "Standing Room Only" end zones are 20 Krona less. I decided I'd rather enjoy the luxury of a seat and indulged myself by spending the extra $2.75.

Police Presence

Why is it that the sound of hoof beats on pavement strikes psychological fear into criminals worldwide?

I read somewhere that due to extreme rowdiness at a home game last season, HIF's punishment, when they meet that same opponent this season, will be NO FANS allowed in Olympia Stadium for the match. BULL YOUR NECKS!

After the game I saw a very obvious display of police presence, including snarling Police Dogs, in the large park by Kärnan Tower that many of us had to walk through on the way back to the train station.

Also, we had Mounted Police outside the train station as well as several uniforms inside the station.

Never can be too careful.

When I entered Olympia Stadium, I was asked to open my backpack for a weapons check I would suspect. I have five zippers on it, opened only the medium sized one, the lady glanced into it only and I was not checked even though I had a big jacket with six pockets.

What could possibly go wrong with such tight security?

The Rio-Kalle Svensson Statue

HIF's all-time favorite goalkeeper, he debuted for HIF as an 18 year old in 1944.

That's Rio-Kalle in action on the left

Is that Pele? Nice hops boys!

The HIF Logo

Olympia Stadium

Bigger than Mjällby's, I am standing under the upper deck section specifically designated for HIF's, shall we say, more die hard fans.

At the far end zone is the SRO section for IKF Göteborg fans.

I'll be in the blue seats at the far end just seven rows and four seats away from the potential mayhem.

No wind made for a good night for Fotboll!

Rest Rooms

If you click on this picture of the Olympia Stadium Map, you will note that there is one rest room on the right side of the stadium. It is near my Section 20 seat. I tried to go there after the game, only to find that the Men's "Rest Room" was a one toilet PERIOD affair! No urinals, nothing for the entire one side of the Stadium!!! How is that possible?


Want to buy a Helsingborg IF Speedo?

Condiments in an udder?

This is farm country after all.

Standing on the railing, THE LEADER!

That's him with the bullhorn in his hand, the man who coordinates, non-stop, every Göteborg cheer, chant and song!

He was relentless, giving new meaning to "90 Minutes of Hell"! They had chants to music of "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Yellow Submarine" and "Skip to My Lou" among others.

His most daring stunt came just before the start of the game when all the HIF fans rose to their feet to sing the HIF fight song which really had more of a 60's American folk music/hootenanny feel to it. While HIF was going all mellow, "THE LEADER" cranked up his minions to their highest fever pitch of the night which pretty much pissed off the entire home crowd.

One very animated HIF fan in the upper deck just above us, had had enough and leaned over screaming Nordic obscenities at "THE LEADER".

As if by magic, beer cans started flying at the HIF fan from below with shimmering golden sprays trailing behind.

The police took the HIF fan into custody quickly . . . HELL, THE GAME HAD NOT EVEN STARTED YET!!!

More Protection for Sec. 20, Row 7, seat 4

Corner Kick
HIF in Red, Göteborg in Blue

Still a Mjällby fan, I was just doing some deep undercover spying for the Black and Gold!

HIF is very good, I even saw them move the ball around on four consecutive head shots, TWICE!

Yes, head shots just like this one.


I saw a "Horse Collar" tackle tonight, illegal in this sport too.

2-0 HIF at the half and that would be all the scoring in the game. Both scores were at my end of the field.

HIF sits alone atop the Allsvenskan table with a perfect record at 3-0-0 which equals 9 team points.

Meanwhile, at far off Örebro (1-0-1), Mjällby (1-1-0) rolled to its second consecutive win, a 2-0 thrashing of the Örebro side. With a record of 2-1-0, Mjällby is now tied for second with Malmö FF at 7 team points, only two points behind HIF.

Next up for the Black and Gold is a home game at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, April 5th against Gefle (1-1-1). I wonder if I have anything going on next Monday?

rousing his troops